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All posts by Foot & Ankle Center

Benefits of Bath Salts For Feet

Benefits of Soaking Feet in Epsom Salt

Epsom salt, derived from distilled mineral-rich water, is a widely used health and beauty product. Named after the town of Epsom in England, this commonly used bath salt is actually a mineral compound containing magnesium and sulfate. Epsom salt is widely touted and used as a treatment for sore muscles, joint pain, arthritis and skin disorders. Despite sparse research on the effectiveness or even the mechanism of action, there are some reasons why Epsom salts may provide benefits to the foot.

The Claims

A home remedy for generations, Epsom foot soaks are purported to relieve aches and pains, decrease inflammation, improve circulation, and soften and deodorize the feet. Epsom salt is also claimed to have anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties — and soaking feet in Epsom salt baths is reported to help heal a variety of foot and skin infections, including athlete’s foot, toenail fungus and small wounds. Epsom salt is even claimed to detoxify the body and relieve stress. However, the benefits of Epsom salt is mostly based on personal testimonies and its longstanding reputation, as there is little research to back up these claims.

The Research: Skin Absorption of Minerals

Since magnesium deficiency can lead to foot cramps and pain, Epsom foot soaks are believed promote magnesium absorption through the skin which helps relax muscles and nerves and lessen foot discomfort. But there isn’t research that supports topical application of magnesium is effective in increasing body magnesium stores, according to a 2012 review published in “International Journal of Cosmetic Science.” However, another review article published in the June 2014 issue of “Experimental Biology and Medicine” suggests that skin absorption could occur given the right conditions — such as with heat or high salt concentrations. In addition, minerals from the water are able to be absorbed if the skin is broken, as in a cut or scratch.

The Research: Healing Properties

Epsom salt is also touted to have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. While there is a lack of research supporting these benefits, there may be some reasons why these foot soaks work. First, soaking feet in water will help clean the feet, removing substances that may risk or worsen infections. Warm or hot water improves blood flow to the skin which can promote healing. Because most bacteria do not thrive in a salty environment, soaking feet in Epsom salt could inhibit the growth of the microorganisms that cause infection. Finally, soaking feet in warm or hot water feels good. It’s relaxing, soothing and reduces stress, and this may simply make you feel better.

How to Soak Feet in Epsom Salt

To enjoy a Epsom foot soak, add one half cup of salts to a small tub that holds enough warm water to cover the feet up to the ankles. Or add 2 cups to a standard size bath tub. Soak feet for 30 to 60 minutes. Combining Epsom salt with essential oil is a relaxing aromatherapy bath treatment. Store the essential oil in a jar with a lid and add a few spoonfuls to bath water.

Precautions

Topical Epsom salt is not known to have any negative impacts on health; however, excess use of Epsom foot baths can result in dried, cracked skin on the feet. Use a foot bath only two to three times a week for duration of 30 to 60 minutes. Individuals with very dry skin should try using less Epsom salt and massage the feet with moisturizer after drying them. Even though Epsom salt may help heal of minor wounds, in certain cases medical treatment will be necessary. If you have diabetes, or if you have nerve damage or poor blood flow to the feet, consult your doctor first with any sores, wounds, redness, swelling or foot pain. Anyone with severe foot pain or redness or pain following a foot injury should also see a doctor.

Source: LiveStrong.com

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Choosing the right athletic shoes

5 Biggest Mistakes When Choosing Workout Shoes

Why you shouldn’t reach for those comfy old sneakers after all.

The single most important piece of equipment in virtually any kind of exercise program — running, aerobics, hiking, tennis, basketball — is the right pair of shoes.

A good pair of sneakers can make or break your workout. And it’s easy to go wrong. Here are the five biggest shoe mistakes people make.

1. Grabbing Whatever’s Handy

Don’t just reach into the closet and pull out an old pair of sneakers. An old pair of shoes may no longer have the support you need. And even more problematic, that pair of shoes might be inappropriate for the activity you choose.

2. Choosing the Right Shoe — for the Wrong Workout

The APMA recommends that if you’re going to participate in a particular sport two to three times a week or more, you should choose a sport-specific shoe.

3. Loving Them Too Much

Your workout shoes should be your workout shoes and not your running-around-town shoes. So buy yourself a pair of casual tennies for running around town, and stow your good workout shoes in the closet as soon as you get home from your run or your tennis game.

4. Loving Them Too Long

Shoes start to break down while they’re still looking good. Once the support is gone, you’ll start feeling strange aches and pains in your knees, hip, and back.

Most experts recommend that runners replace their shoes every 300 to 500 miles. You should replace your athletic shoes at least once a year.

5. Doing It Yourself

It’s a bad idea to just walk into a sporting goods store, try on a few pairs of shoes, and walk out with what you think is best. Instead, go to an athletic shoe specialty store to get an expert insight on the right shoe and the best fit.

Read the entire article at WebMD.com

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Tips to Treat and Prevent Shin Splints

Ouch! Shin Splints…Too Much, Too Soon

If you are an avid walker, have begun a new exercise program, or are an experienced runner, you may have experienced one of the most common lower extremity ailments, shin splints. Shin splints are characterized as pain at the front inside area of the shin bone due to overexertion of the muscles. Shin splints usually involve small tears in the leg muscles where they are attached to the shin bone.

The most common cause of shin splints is inflammation of the periostium of the tibia (sheath surrounding the bones). Some other common causes include flat feet (overpronation), a high arch (underpronation), inadequate footwear, running on hard surfaces, and increasing training too quickly.

Use the following tips to treat and prevent shin splints:

  • For immediate pain relief ice the area to reduce pain and inflammation; take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory (e.g., ibuprofen); and rest to allow the injury to heal.
  • Stretch and strengthen the leg muscles
  • Wear insoles or orthotics that offer arch support
  • Make sure you have the right running shoe for your foot type and for the activity
  • Avoid running on hard surfaces
  • Shorten your stride
  • Consult a podiatrist if your pain is really bad. You should get a full diagnosis to find out if there is a stress fracture in the area.
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Foot Injury Myths

Top Five Foot And Ankle Injury Myths To Stop Believing Now

1. IT CAN’T BE BROKEN BECAUSE I CAN MOVE IT.

False. You can walk with certain kinds of fractures. Common examples include breaks in the smaller, outer bone of the lower leg, small chip fractures of the foot or ankle bones, and the often-neglected fracture of the toe.

2. IF YOU BREAK A TOE, IMMEDIATE CARE ISN’T NECESSARY.

False. A toe fracture needs prompt attention. X-rays will reveal if it is a simple, displaced fracture or an angulated break. Your podiatrist can develop the right treatment plan once he or she has identified the type of break.

3. IF YOU HAVE A FOOT OR ANKLE INJURY, SOAK IT IN HOT WATER IMMEDIATELY.

False. Heat promotes blood flow and can cause greater swelling, which can lead to more pain. An ice bag wrapped in a towel is the ideal temporary treatment before you see your podiatrist.

4. APPLYING AN ELASTIC BANDAGE TO A SEVERELY SPRAINED ANKLE IS ADEQUATE TREATMENT.

False. Ankle sprains often mean torn or severely overstretched ligaments, and they should receive immediate care.

5. THE TERMS ‘FRACTURE,’ ‘BREAK,’ AND ‘CRACK’ ARE ALL DIFFERENT.

False. All of those words are appropriate for describing a broken bone.

REMEMBER, A DELAY IN TREATMENT CAN CAUSE TOE DEFORMITIES AND OTHER PODIATRIC PROBLEMS.
If you have suffered a foot or ankle injury, please contact the Foot And Ankle Center today at (504) 349-6633 or make an appointment online.

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Common Foot Pains

Simple steps that help people with diabetes keep their feet healthy

A diabetes diagnosis can be daunting, but a simple attitude adjustment can make a world of difference in how well you fare while living with the disease. When people with diabetes take proactive steps to monitor key health indicators, experts agree that it’s possible to prevent some of the most severe risks of diabetes, including lower limb amputation.

People ages 20 and older who are living with diabetes account for about 60 percent of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report.

“The CDC says the occurrence of diabetes-related foot and lower-leg amputation has decreased by 65 percent since 1996,” says Catherine Hudson, DPM, a podiatrist at Foot and Ankle Center and member of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). “Working together, podiatrists and their patients with diabetes can reduce the number of amputations even more.”

People with diabetes may be less aware of cuts or wounds on their feet due to the nerve damage related to their disease, Dr. Hudson points out. “Regular and vigilant foot care can help catch problems before they develop into a health crisis.”

APMA offers advice to help people with diabetes protect their foot health:

  • Inspect your feet daily, checking the entire foot and all 10 toes for cuts, bruises, sores, or changes to the toenails, such as thickening or discoloration. Treat wounds immediately and see your podiatrist if a problem persists or infection is apparent.
  • Exercise by walking, which can help you maintain a healthy weight and improve circulation. Be sure to wear athletic shoes appropriate for the type of exercise you’re doing.
  • When you buy new shoes, have them properly measured and fitted. Foot size and shape can change over time, and ill-fitting shoes are a leading cause of foot pain and lesions. Certain types of shoes, socks, and custom orthotics are available for people with diabetes, and they may be covered under Medicare. You can find a list of podiatrist-approved footwear and products for people with diabetes on the APMA website, www.apma.org.
  • Keep your feet covered and never go barefoot, even at home. The risk of cuts and infection is too great.
  • See a podiatrist to remove calluses, corns, or warts—don’t tackle them yourself, and don’t ask an unlicensed nonprofessional to do it. Over-the-counter products can burn your skin and injure your foot. Podiatrists are specially trained to address all aspects of foot health for people with diabetes.
  • Get checkups twice a year. An exam by your podiatrist is the best way to ensure your feet stay healthy.

“For people with diabetes, taking charge of your own foot health can help you avoid foot-related complications like amputation,” Dr. Hudson says. “Working with today’s podiatrist will help you safeguard your foot health.”

Catherine Hudson, DPM is a podiatrist at Foot and Ankle Center in Marrero, LA.  Call 504-349-6633 or visit http://www.footandanklenola.com/contact to make an appointment. Visit www.apma.org to learn more about foot health and care.

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Diabetes Awareness Month

November is Diabetes Awareness Month

Diabetes Awareness Month (November 1–30) provides Foot and Ankle Center the opportunity to help educate the public about a podiatrist’s critical role on the diabetes management team, and the ways in which patients with diabetes can take simple steps to prevent foot complications, such as vascular disease. Join us in supporting APMA’s new “Diabetes: A Path to Poor Circulation?” campaign.

See the Full Campaign Poster here.

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tips to prevent blisters

Tips on How to Prevent & Treat Blisters

Don’t let painful blisters keep you from staying active! Stay on your feet with these helpful tips from Today’s Podiatrist.

How do blisters form?
Blisters form when there is friction against the foot, which can cause the outer layer of the skin to rub together, separate, and fill with fluid.

What causes blisters?
• Ill-fitting shoes
• Sweaty feet, especially if you do not wear moisture-wicking socks

Should I pop the blisters?
You should never pop blisters because you can run the risk of potential infection. Those with diabetes or poor circulation and the immunocompromised are at increased risk for developing infection.

If I can’t pop the blisters, how should I treat them?
• Apply a Band-Aid or gauze to the affected area
• Avoid whatever footwear caused the initial irritation and blister development
Make an appointment with Foot & Ankle Center if the area starts to smell or have discharge

How can I prevent blisters from forming?

• Buy proper-fitting shoes. Get your feet professionally measured so you are confident in your foot size and always remember to go shoe shopping toward the end of the day, as feet tend to swell during the day and physical activities.
• Wear moisture-wicking socks to prevent excess moisture, which can lead to blister formation.
• Try using different foot powders and creams to keep friction to a minimum.

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Pedicure Tips

Dos & Dont’s for a Fabulous Pedicure

Everyone needs a little foot pampering from time to time! Whether you are getting your
toes ready for prom, prepping for beach season, or just want to splash on a bright color
of polish before a hot date, grooming your feet should be done frequently to not only
keep feet looking good, but also to ensure proper foot health.

Whether you like to get a pedicure in the nail salon or at home, follow these easy Dos and Don’ts to keep your feet looking and feeling their best.

Dos
If you have diabetes or poor circulation in your feet, consult a podiatrist so he or she can recommend a customized pedicure that both you and your salon can follow for optimal foot health.
Schedule your pedicure first thing in the morning. Salon foot baths are typically cleanest earlier in the day. If you’re not a morning person, make sure that the salon filters and cleans the foot bath between clients.

Bring your own pedicure utensils to the salon. Bacteria and fungus can move easily from one person to the next if the salon doesn’t use proper sterilization techniques.

When eliminating thick, dead skin build-up, also known as calluses, on the heel, ball and sides of the feet, use a pumice stone, foot file or exfoliating scrub. Soak feet in warm water for at least five minutes, then use the stone, scrub, or foot file to gently smooth calluses and other rough patches.

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